Plasma security and sustainability

We have been seeing a steady increase in the need for plasma in Canada and around the globe as the number of illnesses that can be treated by plasma-derived products continues to rise.

Plasma security and sustainability FAQs

Why does Canada need more source plasma?

The source plasma we collect is used to manufacture lifesaving products or therapies derived from the proteins in human plasma. Canadian Blood Services is responsible for ensuring a safe and secure supply of plasma, and for mitigating the risks and impacts of the growing global demand for plasma protein products such as immune globulin, within Canada’s national healthcare system.

Globally, the use and demand for these products continue to rise. Usage for one plasma protein product, immune globulin, has more than doubled internationally over the past ten years. Immune globulin is used to treat primary and secondary immune deficiency disorders, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders and other diseases with an immune origin.

We have identified a decrease in plasma sufficiency — the percentage of products delivered to Canadian patients that is produced from plasma collected at our donor centres — as a material risk needing mitigation.

Collecting more plasma will help thousands of patients in Canada who depend on these therapies.

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Is plasma collection more important than whole blood collection?

Both plasma and whole blood are important and necessary to address the needs of patients. What we are seeing in plasma is an urgency to increase collections driven by a rapid-growth in demand for products that are made from proteins in plasma. If demand continues to rise at its current rate, without having a secure domestic supply, patients in Canada could be at risk.

Whether patients need whole blood or plasma, we will continue to work on their behalf to ensure that Canadians receive the blood and blood products they need (through hospitals and other centres) where and when they need them.

What is the difference between the dedicated plasma donation centres and the plasma that is collected at existing whole blood donor centres?

The three new centres we’re opening (located in Sudbury Ont., Lethbridge Alta., and Kelowna B.C.) will be solely dedicated to collecting source plasma. The purpose of this approach is to develop a new collections model that is separate and distinct from the one currently used to collect whole blood.

The model adheres to the founding principles of voluntary, unpaid donation in Canada. It builds on our extensive expertise and decades of experience in whole blood collection combined with industry best practices and the cumulative knowledge acquired from other blood operators that are meeting their sufficiency targets. The goal is to secure plasma sufficiency in Canada for patients in the most sustainable, cost-effective and scalable manner possible.

This approach is specific to our dedicated plasma donation centres. We will continue to collect plasma alongside whole blood at donor sites where that program is currently available (Calgary Alta., Charlottetown P.E.I., Edmonton Alta., Halifax N.S., London Ont. Saint John N.B. and St. John’s N.L.).

If you need to increase plasma collection, why aren’t you running mobile plasma donation events?

With the operating hours we have planned for our locations in Sudbury, Lethbridge, and Kelowna, we will be able to collect the plasma we need at our plasma donation centre. Additionally, the equipment used to collect plasma is not as transportable as that for blood donations.